— Industry strategy seeks to grow hectarage by 2 000ha
— To generate $25 million export earnings
Business Writer —
Zimbabwe’s coffee industry requires at least $65 million to boost production mainly by small scale farmers, according to the sector’s five year development draft strategy.
At least 4 700 hectares would be planted by 2 000 small scale farmers while output is expected to grow by 6 300 tonnes with potential export earnings of $25,2 million in five years. The country produces a mild Arabica coffee, known for its balanced acidity, body and consistent quality. Although historically contributing only 0,2 percent of the world’s coffee, Zimbabwe’s coffee is regarded highly and fetches a high premium on the global market.
Some non-governmental organizations have been funding coffee production over the past five years. However, there is a growing interest from the private sector with global food company, Nestle Nespresso said to be considering establishing an out grower scheme.
The strategy, developed by the industry and awaits Government approval seeks to define a number of objectives, which would be achieved through the implementation of specified strategic options. The objectives and strategic options ensure the sector’s contribution to the achievement of critical issues raised under the four clusters of the ZimASSET, namely, food security and nutrition, social services and poverty eradication, infrastructure and utilities and value addition and beneficiation.
“The aim is to build a strong coffee industry based on viable production through revitalising and boosting coffee production in all traditional and new suitable coffee producing districts of Zimbabwe,” read part of the document. The programme entails maintaining and boosting the existing coffee trees and establishing new coffee orchards in suitable areas.”
Zimbabwe’s coffee industry was built on two distinct models namely, large-scale and smallholder sectors. At its peak the total area under coffee in Zimbabwe was about 8 000 hectares and production reached an all-time high of 14 664 tonnes in 1989, of which Arabica coffee comprised nearly 99 percent of the production. The sector employed about 20 000 people then.
Zimbabwe exported coffee in Netherlands, USA, Germany, South Africa, Canada, Australia and the UK. Production was largely affected due to recurrent droughts, limited supplementary irrigation infrastructure, limited financial support to growers, level of production skills, constrained funding for coffee research and extension programmes, availability of labour, cost of inputs, coffee prices paid to farmers, non-structured coffee seed production which affects quality of seed, and the upsurge in insect pests and diseases.